Sunday, December 1, 2013
Waze app provides real-time traffic alerts from community drivers
As I got into my car for my daily commute to work, my latest iPhone app tells me there are 25 other drivers nearby ready to assist me with real-time traffic reports and commuting information.
The commuting information is from Waze, a traffic and navigation app that I have been testing over the past few weeks. I can truly say that it works and also has very impressive GPS capabilities.
The technology behind the Waze app is based on a community of other drivers with the Waze app, or "Wazers" as they like to call themselves. The beauty of the concept is that these drivers are local to your area and drive some of the same routes that you would take every day.
Once in your car, just fire up the Waze app, type in your destination and leave the app open. You'll notice right away that your location is accurately displayed and a little icon tracks your route on a three-dimensional map, or 2D if you prefer. As you drive along, you might notice alerts on traffic jams or simply slow traffic, accidents, road hazards and other information – all in real time. These alerts are coming from other "Wazers" traveling the same route and have submitted alerts along the way.
On my particular route to work, I was alerted of a "car on the shoulder" a few miles down the road. Sure enough, a few minutes later I came upon a stalled vehicle on the right shoulder of the interstate. Amazing.
During another four-hour trip on a major interstate, I came upon slow traffic and knew something was wrong ahead. I fired up the Waze app to discover an accident had been reported a few mile ahead by a fellow Wazer.
The GPS features of the Waze app is amazingly accurate, with the location of my vehicle dead-on in relation to the map on the display. The icon for my vehicle passed through intersections on the map display as I did in real time. When stopped at a red light a few vehicles back from the intersection, that's where my location was on the Waze map. The GPS technology of the Waze app is very impressive, with functions similar to a genuine GPS unit, complete with day and night modes for the display.
As you drive along with Waze, the map automatically zooms in and out, based on the detail being shown on your smartphone display. All gas stations and public landmarks are displayed, such as parks, rivers, lakes and dreams.
According to the company, Waze is being used by around 50 million people and I would imagine this is growing, as each time I log in, the number of Wazers nearby seemed to have grown. A team of seven developers from Silicon Valley, Israel, the United Kingdom and other locations are responsible for this innovative use of crowd-sourcing with traffic reports and other commuting information.
Waze is free at this time and is available for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Windows Phone devices, with the latest version being 3.7.6, which added a voice-based search for finding addresses and places. Maybe a version for the BlackBerry platform is on the drawing board.
In the latest twist of Waze marketing, Comedian Kevin Hart is lending his voice for turn-by-turn navigation in the app.
I'm sold on the technology of the Waze app and its community-based traffic reporting. I won't leave home without it.